As fans of the NFL look ahead to the 2012 NFL season, two teams have emerged as the early favorites in the AFC West; the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. It’s not hard to figure out why Denver is seen as a favorite. They are the defending division champs and they added one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in free agency. So naturally, they’ll win the division, right? Well, not so fast my friends.
Many “experts” are starting to realize that the Kansas City Chiefs were a blocked FG away from winning the division, despite the fact that Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moeaki were out for the year, they fired their coach mid-season, and started Tyler Freaking Palko for four games. The only thing holding people back from loving the Chiefs is that people don’t have a lot of faith in Matt Cassel.
It makes for an interesting test of how teams can best win games in the NFL. KC is seen as a team with a stacked overall roster, but without the caliber of a QB that one usually needs to go far in the playoffs. Denver is seen as a team with some holes in their roster, but has one of the best QBs to ever play the game.
In fact, I can make a case that if you look at all the other areas of these teams, there might not be a single other position group that Denver has an edge over KC in other then QB. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look.
Denver – Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hilman, Knowshon Moreno
KC – Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, Cyrus Gray
If Jamaal Charles is 100 percent back, then this is a hands down win for KC. If Charles is only say 80 percent of what he was, then it is closer, but I still like the idea of Peyton Hillis running to prove last year was a fluke and he’s still a premier NFL RB.
Denver – Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Andre Caldwell, Brandon Stokely, Matt Willis
KC – Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Dexter McCluster, Devon Wylie
Now, if we’re talking which group will end up with better numbers this coming season, the safe bet is the Denver crew, but that has more to do with who will be throwing them the ball and how much the offenses throw the ball in general. If you’re just talking about the ability of the WRs themselves, I think you have to give the edge to KC, mainly because they have the only proven elite level WR in Bowe. The Denver WR core is solid, but with an elite QB, the KC group would be scary.
Denver – Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Virgil Green
KC – Tony Moeaki, Kevin Boss, Jake O’Connell
In the pass catching department, this one is pretty much even. Tamme had a 60+ catch year with Manning in Indy and Dreesen caught six TDs last season in Houston. However, Moeaki and Boss are both much better blockers then Tamme and Dreesen so that puts the edge, once again, in KC’s favor.
Denver – Ryan Clady, Chris Kuper, JD Walton, Zane Beadles, Orlando Franklin
KC – Branden Albert, Ryan Lilja, Rodney Hudson, Jon Asamoah, Eric Winston
This is a hard one for me. Clady looked like the best up and coming tackle in the NFL as a rookie but has slipped a little since, while Albert continues to be a solid and more consistent player. Winston is better than Franklin, period. Kuper, assuming he comes back healthy, is probably the best guard between the teams but Asamoah isn’t far behind him. Beadles has some upside, but Lilja is much more experienced. Walton has playing experience, but didn’t look that good while Hudson has yet to play a snap at center in the NFL. I think Denver fans may argue it’s a tie, but I think the clear gap between Winston and Franklin gives KC the edge.
Denver – Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, Justin Bannan, Derek Wolfe, Ty Warren
KC – Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Amon Gordon
This is another one that is so hard to judge because of the different schemes that the two teams run. I think it’s clear that the Denver group is far better at rushing the passer and the KC group is far better at stopping the run. Dumervil is the best player on this list, but it’s hard for me to say the Denver DL is better when I have serious questions on their ability to stop the run. If Dontari Poe comes in and impresses from day one he could tip the scales in KC’s favor, but for now I’ll call it a tie.
Denver – Von Miller, Joe Mays, Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving, (DJ Williams suspended)
KC – Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston, Jovan Belcher
Chiefs and Broncos fans could argue all day about who is better between Miller and Hali, but what isn’t debatable is that with DJ Williams already suspended six games for an illegal substance and more games likely being added to it for a second DUI arrest, the Broncos don’t have anybody else at LB that stacks up with Derrick Johnson. Furthermore, I would say that Justin Houston has shown more upside than any of the other LBs on Denver’s roster as well. Despite Denver having the amazing Von Miller, KC takes this one as well.
Denver – Champ Bailey, Drayton Florence, Tracy Porter, Syd’Quan Thompson, Omar Bolden
KC – Brandon Flowers, Stanford Routt, Javier Arenas, Travis Daniels, Jalil Brown
Well, between Bailey and Florence the Broncos have about 150 years of NFL experience. The question is whether or not their old man bodies hold up. If Denver has a hidden fountain of youth in their locker room, then this could actually be a win for Denver. However, I think if you asked the other 30 NFL GMs which of these CBs they would like at this point of their careers, they would all pick Brandon Flowers. I’ll give Denver the edge in experience but KC the edge in athleticism and call it a tie, but with an asterisk that if Bailey falls off drastically, it swings to the Chiefs.
Denver – Mike Adams, Quinton Carter, David Burton, Rahim Moore
KC – Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Abram Elam, DeQuan Menzie
Eric Berry. Chiefs win.
Denver – Matt Prater, Britton Colquitt
KC – Ryan Succop, Dustin Colquitt
This is probably the one area where Denver is the clear winner. They were better in both kick return and punt return averages and Britton out-punted his brother last season. Prater and Succop put up pretty similar numbers last year. This one belongs to Denver.
So in summery, Denver has a much better quarterback and better special teams. Everywhere else KC is either better or it’s too close to call. Although I should also probably give credit to Denver for having a better all-around pass rush. The wide spread belief is that today’s NFL is all about the quarterback. This year in the AFC West, the Broncos and Chiefs will put that theory to the test. I for one can’t wait to see how it turns out.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!